Guardian: The Lonely and Great God

Photo Credits here

By Huang Xin

Following its premiere on December 2nd, 2016 through to the airing of its very last episode on January 21st, 2017 on TvN Channel, the television series “Guardian: The Lonely and Great God”, or more commonly referred to as Goblin by fans, has etched its name into the hearts of both local and international fans alike. It established an astoundingly large international fan base and is still a huge hit in Korea even after the series reached its end. To put this in perspective, the series received 18.68% nationwide ratings with the airing of its final episode, ascending to the status of second highest rated drama in all of Korean cable television history, just behind Reply 1988.

The backstory of the drama begins in the Goryeo era of Korea. The male lead, Kim Shin, played by famed actor Gong Yoo, was the highest ranked general of that time and was revered by the people for his character and ability. However, faced with a jealous King, he was sentenced to death as a rebel. To save his family, he asked his closest subordinate to stab him in the heart with his own sword and was left to die in a deserted grass field. The people of Goryeo did not bear to see this, and due to their prayers, God transformed him into an immortal in the form of a goblin, blessed with superpowers and an eternal life.

However, over time, he began to see that this was the cruellest punishment to him, and wished to end his eternal life. The only way he can do this is to have his bride remove the sword stabbed in his chest. Into this mix, enters the Goblin Bride, a nineteen-year-old high school girl Ji Eun Tak, played by actress Kim Go Eun. Only Eun Tak is able to see the sword on Kim Shin’s chest, so Kim Shin keeps Eun Tak close to him and protects her from the Grim Reaper, a character played by Lee Dong Wook.

Coincidentally, the Grim Reaper is the tenant of Kim Shin’s majestic residence and as it turns out, the trio started staying under the same roof and began engaging in hilarious interactions every day. This was the part that has drawn most viewers in, and many have even begun ‘shipping’ the two male characters because they looked too cute and funny when they are together.

Despite their complicated and interdependent relationships, they fostered strong bonds with one another and Kim Shin and Eun Tak fell deeply in love with each other. The sweet and romantic plot came to a steep downturn when Kim Shin realised that the only moments which unsuspecting Eun Tak is able to end his life are the moments that he truly wanted to live on and the story only became more melancholic as their love for each other got stronger. Kim Shin experiences excruciating pain for every time he longs for Eun Tak and amid this bittersweet romance, the antagonist appears. The addition of the antagonist to the story greatly sped up its development and played a crucial role in delivering its last and most heartbreaking scene in the series.

Having enrolled into NUS High Boarding School as a Year 5 senior this year, I have managed to connect with many of its other residents through our common interest in this wildly intriguing series. Not only were we mesmerized by the chemistry between the lead actors Gong Yoo and Kim Go Eun, we were also moved by how the characters helped each other through hardships in pursuit of their own happiness, despite their wildly entangled destinies in the past life. We hold dearly their sweetest scenes and got jitters during many of their most precarious moments in the series.

Most importantly, the drama kept us guessing the past identities of the characters in their present life, and questioning the intention behind the unfolding of events, all while inciting tears to its many emotional scenes. This is also what has made the television series so captivating – the puzzles it threw at us together with sweet romance, humour and tear bombs.

It is a clever fusion of many elements and is yet another masterpiece by star screenwriter Kim Eun Sook, who has a spectacular repertoire, including Lovers in Paris (2004), On Air (2010), Secret Garden (2010), A Gentleman’s Dignity(2012), The Heirs(2013) and the more recent Descendants of the Sun (2016). The writer’s fame has indeed added to the anticipations for the series, and even though I have always been a huge fan of her many dramas, I feel Goblin still exceeded my high-placed expectations. Sharing the same sentiments as many other connoisseurs of K-drama – we knew the series would be hot, but we did not expect it to be this scorching hot.

Giving some thought to this drama after watching it (or reading this review):

Imagine if you are the goblin, living an eternal life of agony till you meet the love of your life. The only way to end your life is to have your bride kill you during the happiest times when you hoped to live.

Had you a choice, would you choose to go when you had died or to live to meet her?


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